Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Life Is Tough; God Is Good

My Brother was laid off yesterday after 23 years with his company. My cousin was laid off last week after 8 years with his company. I just received an email from one of our church members that he was just given 2 weeks notice.

It is easy to despair during times like this. I understand the fear, the uncertainty, the shock, the anger that can come during a sudden, unexpected reordering of your life. We just lived through nearly four years of that uncertainty. My heart is burdened for these dear ones.

But my heart is encouraged as well because I know that this is in the vast, good plan of our loving Father.

When I talked with my brother yesterday I told him that he had an awesome opportunity to demonstrate the reality of his faith to his teenage children. Sure there are difficult emotions, there are all of the decisions that must be made, the efforts to update the resume, the networking that must be done. But first of all there is the time to praise God for his multiplied blessings. As I shoveled snow this morning I kept remembering the old Gospel Song: Count Your Blessings:

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.

I was meditating on the truth in that short verse and the good advice.

I also began meditating on the Psalms and the times that the Psalmist said to just think back on the blessings of God. Over and over again the great things that God had done for Israel are reflected on. God’s graciousness is extolled.

One particular Psalm is slightly different. It is Psalm 73. In that Psalm Asaph is discouraged because it seems as if the wicked prosper and the righteous are always suffering. But when he reflects on the glory of God and on the big picture, i.e the judgment of the wicked, then he remembers that God is in control and that what we take for suffering is in the final result, God’s blessing.

As we face uncertain days may we continue to meditate on God’s character, his love, his sovereignty, his glory. That is the best thing that we can do to encourage our souls.

(Edited to add Psalm 103)

“Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:
Who forgiveth all thine iniquities;
who healeth all thy diseases;
Who redeemeth thy life from destruction;
who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;
Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The LORD executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed.
He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel.
The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.
He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever.
He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.
As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.
For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.
As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth.
For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.

But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him,
and his righteousness unto children’s children;
To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them.
The LORD hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all.

Bless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word.
Bless ye the LORD, all ye his hosts; ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure.
Bless the LORD, all his works in all places of his dominion:
Bless the LORD, O my soul.”

(Psalms 103:0-22 KJV)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Praying for Our President

Ligon Duncan has an excellent article on an appropriate way to pray for our new president. I am linking it here. I shared this with our church people tonight. I also referenced Psalm 20 in regard to praying for our leaders.

This Psalm is a coronation Psalm, given as a new king was crowned.

May the Lord answer you when you are in distress;
may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.
May he send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion.
May he remember all your sacrifices and accept your burnt offerings.    Selah
May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.
We will shout for joy when you are victorious and will lift up our banners in the name of our God.
May the Lord grant all your requests.

Now I know that the Lord saves his anointed;
he answers him from his holy heaven with the saving power of his right hand.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm.

O Lord, save the king! Answer us when we call!”
(Psalms 20:1-9 NIV)

Monday, January 05, 2009

God of the Ages

This song sums up my sermon yesterday.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

The Creator-Redeemer

I am preaching on Colossians 1 tomorrow.  As I have prepared this sermon I am in awe of the Redeemer.  

He created and sustains this world.  He is above all.  He rules over all.  He is the before all and the greatest of all. He is the image of God, revealing the Father to his creation.  Yet the crown of his creation has chosen to rebel against him.  Still he cares about his creation.  He rules over it, he cares for it, ultimately he died to redeem it.  I am reminded that Paul said in Romans 8 that all creation is groaning awaiting the time that all will be set free.  We join in that groaning, looking for the day when we will be free from the effects of sin.  Yet in a real sense when we know Christ as Saviour we are currently free, having already been redeemed by his death on the cross.

We rejoice in that redemption, living our lives for the sake of that Gospel.  That impacts every area of our lives.  All that we do, every activity that we engage in, should be done in the light of redemption. "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." (1 Corinthians 10:31 NIV) 

Quite a testimony

This is a video compiled about Tim Tebow. A friend of mine had it posted on Facebook and I thought it was worth posting here.

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